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The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1)
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The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) [Unabridged] [Audio Cassette]

Lemony Snicket , Tim Curry
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,612 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 27, 2001 10 and up 5 and upA Series of Unfortunate Events (Book 1)
Read by Tim Curry
Approx. 2 hours
2 cassettes

Beware — Not for fans of happy endings!

After the sudden death of their parents, the three Baudelaire children must depend on each other and their wits when it turns out that the distant relative who is appointed their guardian is determined to use any means necessary to get their fortune.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Make no mistake. The Bad Beginning begins badly for the three Baudelaire children, and then gets worse. Their misfortunes begin one gray day on Briny Beach when Mr. Poe tells them that their parents perished in a fire that destroyed their whole house. "It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet, Klaus, and even Sunny felt in the time that followed," laments the personable (occasionally pedantic) narrator, who tells the story as if his readers are gathered around an armchair on pillows. But of course what follows is dreadful. The children thought it was bad when the well-meaning Poes bought them grotesque-colored clothing that itched. But when they are ushered to the dilapidated doorstep of the miserable, thin, unshaven, shiny-eyed, money-grubbing Count Olaf, they know that they--and their family fortune--are in real trouble. Still, they could never have anticipated how much trouble. While it's true that the events that unfold in Lemony Snicket's novels are bleak, and things never turn out as you'd hope, these delightful, funny, linguistically playful books are reminiscent of Roald Dahl (remember James and the Giant Peach and his horrid spinster aunts), Charles Dickens (the orphaned Pip in Great Expectations without the mysterious benefactor), and Edward Gorey (The Gashlycrumb Tinies). There is no question that young readers will want to read the continuing unlucky adventures of the Baudelaire children in The Reptile Room and The Wide Window. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

British actor Tim Curry, whose reputation for playing dastardly villain types precedes him, is terrific in this adaptation of the intentionally over-the-top, slightly scary tale of the Baudelaire orphans. As narrator/author Snicket, Curry relates the sad saga with pity and enlightenment sparked by dashes of humor. When the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus and baby Sunny, learn that their parents have perished in a fire at the family mansion, the children's rocky course is set for misery and misadventure (enough to fill the projected 13 volumes of this clever book series). The executor of the Baudelaire parents' will and keeper of the family fortune, Mr. Poe, arranges for the orphans to live with a guardian, a creepy distant relative named Count Olaf. Nasty in more ways than one, Count Olaf mistreats the children, leading them to quickly discover that he only wants their money. After they unravel one of the count's more awful schemes, the children are eventually delivered from the situation, leading neatly into a sequel. Curry plays Olaf with an appropriately spooky whispering hiss and deserves extra kudos for his convincing portrayal of Poe's racking, sometimes phlegmy cough. As a bonus, the tape contains a hilarious interview between historian, critic and author Leonard S. Marcus and Daniel Handler (suspected to be the mysterious Lemony Snicket himself). An entertaining song called "Scream and Run Away," about Count Olaf, fittingly closes the proceedings. Ages 9-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Book 1)
  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Listening Library (Audio); Unabridged edition (March 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807261785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807261781
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,612 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,112,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lemony Snicket claims he was nowhere near the scene of the crime. He is the author of several other unpleasant stories, including those in the bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Lump of Coal.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
193 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read October 19, 2003
I went back and forth about whether I should get this book to read with my 7 year old second grader. I kept telling myself I should wait till she was older, but found the book at a good price, so I bought it. I worried it would be too depressing and scary for her, but it did not turn out that way at all. The book is written from a narrators point of view, so the personal feelings of the characters are never fully exposed and explored. You know that the three orphans are sad about their parents death, but the book doesn't wallow in their grief and make it painful to read. If you can imagine Vincent Price reading the book, that tends to make it a little more lighthearted. The bad guy of the book, Count Olaf, is an awful brute who is outright cruel to the children at times, but again the book doesn't have the children suffering without end. Instead it makes them more resilient to foil the Counts plans and triumph over him. My daughter was EAGER to read these books. That was the best thing about it all. We have tried classics, Pippi Longstocking, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Charlottes Web, but as great as they are, they lack The Bad Beginnings level of excitement, mystery and wondering what will happen next. I enjoyed the book myself and will continue to read the rest of the series, in hopes they are as entertaining as this one. I can see if you have a very sensitive child, this would not be the book for them until they are older. Some kids my daughters age are scared of Harry Potter movies, so this book would be too much for them. If your youngster isn't living in a sheltered world where everything is wonderful and bad things don't happen, and they can understand the difference between a made up story and a real one, then they just might enjoy this new type of childrens adventure stories.
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79 of 88 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Most Unfortunate Family... May 1, 2000
By A Customer
If you like the part of Harry Potter when he's living under the stairs of the Dursley household, before the happy bit where he gets accepted to Wizard school, then you'll enjoy these books.
The Baudelaire orphans are nice and smart. But boy are they unlucky. The book opens with the Baudelaire parents dying in a fire and the orphans having to find a relative to look after them. Although there is a huge family fortune, they can't get it until Violet, the oldest at 14, turns 18. But this doesn't stop the dastardly (and there isn't really any other word to describe him) Count Olaf, a horrible and distant relative, and his nasty henchmen/women/things from trying to get their hands (or hooks) on it. And as far as Olaf is concerened, the Baudelaires are expendable, a word which here means "not needed after Count Olaf gets his hands on the money".
Just one word of warning--when the author says if you like cheerful books or happy endings, stop reading now, he means it. But if you like miserable scary books with unhappy endings, keep reading! And you'll learn lots of horrible words with depressing or unfortunate meanings as well.
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too delicious! February 15, 2001
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I came to this series as a result of an interview with the author that I read in Publishers Weekly. Intrigued, I ordered the first three books. I loved them. They are purportedly children's books but the author has a wicked sense of humor, and includes references that only adults would recognize. (For example, two of the three children are named Sunny and Klaus. Gee, that makes me think about some real-life wicked goings-on.)
Aside from everything else, these children actually come alive; they're inventive, clever and resourceful. They also suffer at the hands of their wonderfully conceived evil uncle Count Olaf.
I've passed these books along to a number of children who gobbled them up as avidly as I did--which proves that a good book knows no age barriers. This series is pure pleasure.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book! January 2, 2000
By A Customer
I'm in 5th grade and I thought the book is great. It felt like I was in the book and I was Baudelaire child. I read the book in one whole day because I couldn't stop. The next day I read the sequel. I recommend this book to all.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Depressing April 4, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Library Binding
These books are sure to capture the attention of any reader. They are both funny and well-written, with fast-moving plots and memorable characters. Believe the description, though. If depressing events fill you with dismay and may cause you to lock yourself away for days following your reading of this book, perhaps you'd better abstain. Otherwise, these books belong on bookshelves beside Harry Potter, A Little Princess, Oliver Twist, and the Narnia Chronicles. Of course bad things happen to orphans. That's the purpose of their existence in the world of books. Come on now. Isn't it refreshing to have an author be honest about it for once?
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42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a series of unfortunate events - and he's not kidding November 14, 2000
I bought this book expecting something darkly whimsical, something like Dahl, or Gorey, or Burton, perhaps. I wasn't entirely impressed. There wasn't enough whimsy for my taste, and I found the travails of the Baudelaire children not amusing but truly *depressing*. One horrible thing after another happens to the children, and it's really not as amusing or as charming as you'd think. As Mr. "Snicket" says, in the opening line of the book, "If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book." And he's not kidding. Another reviewer remarked on the similarity of this book to the part in Harry Potter where he lives under the stairs "before the happy bit". I have to disagree. That was a good kind of melancholy - this is just plain awful. I also found the vocabulary lessons on every other page to be irritating. It was almost cute the first couple of times, but after a while, you just want to bludgeon Mr. "Snicket" to death with a dictionary. I also couldn't figure out if this book was intended for children or for adults. If it was written for children, I might question Mr. Snicket's taste - most of the adults are grotesque pedophilic monsters who constantly leer and drool over the children. Is he writing these books as proscribed therapy as a sex-offender? If it was written for adults, it comes off entirely too condescending and simple. Still, it has a certain.. je ne sais quoi. I would recommend that most people borrow this first book from a friend or the library before deciding to buy the series. However, if you are a truly mean-spirited, black-hearted, lecherous, leering villain, I recommend you run out and buy them all today: this series was made for you!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad
It was ok but I still kind of thought it was sad and yes It was very very sad I cried a little hoping not to cry but I could not help it I have not seen all the books but at point... Read more
Published 2 days ago by suo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
best book ever
Published 5 days ago by Reeciecup
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
Good book
Published 5 days ago by Beckett
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Sticker placed on outside cover tore off the text.
Published 8 days ago by jerod vick
5.0 out of 5 stars an easy read !!
it, as the book's name suggests, has a sad beginning. It has many great adventures inside. I believe that this book would be great for children of age 9 and above.
Published 10 days ago by Sheereen
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
I REALLY recommend this book
I loved it
My uncle told me that I should read it
I wasn't sure if I should read it because of the name
1 year passed... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Ayat Shukairy
3.0 out of 5 stars I liked the unique way some words get defined for the ...
I read this through a writer's eyes and to get a grasp on middle grade fictions. It is well-written. The voice/POV is unique. Seems to be the writer is the narrator. Read more
Published 21 days ago by M. B. Harris
4.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunate events indeed!
First off, I would suggest this series / book for (advanced?) young readers -- 2nd through 5th grade. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Adrianne P
5.0 out of 5 stars good book!
I thought this book was good, exciting, scary, and awesome! I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
Published 1 month ago by Bone Freak
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it
I loved it
I liked when vilolet used her left hand not her right hand
I want to tea it
Published 1 month ago by Jade Johnson
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